Arcology /
Choosing ASite

Arcology sites have been proposed everywhere from in space to at the bottom of the ocean. A succession of poor suggestions and choices has stymied development considerably.

Possible sites:

1. Space - exceedingly expensive, unpredictable, unpleasant (for most), zero gravity (fun for a time, but problematic later) though it could be corrected with a sufficiently large spinning arcology. Difficult to move people or materials and difficult to expand. This option remains fancifully far off.

2. Mountain top - (Note: Whistler-Blackcomb has been a site of interest to some few arcologists.) Erratic wind rules out wind power, and cloudy skys in most mountaintops make solar power difficult. Mountaintops are cold and dry in general, which means that water and electric power will need to be shipped in from other areas. Furthermore, construction atop mountains is difficult, and most mountaintops are not near populated areas, making labor and processed materials difficult to obtain. Mountain soil or slopes may be unstable and would need an expensive survey before use.

3. Desert - The site of arcosanti as well as many proposed arcologies, the desert has captured the imagination of many arcologists. Deserts are generally good for solar power and typically have cleaner air and water. Desert land is usually cheap, sparing money for other uses. The limited amount of fresh water makes agriculture more difficult. Arcosanti's sparsely populated area makes use of local labor or materials difficult. The difficulty and impracticality for volunteers of getting to Arcosanti has slowed construction there. Desert soil is not good, and better soil or alterative food production has to be set up, or alternatively, food imported in order to feed the residents and volunteers.

4. Canyons - Difficult and expensive to build in or on, as well as difficult to expand. This does, however, open the possibility of large amounts of hydropower.

5. Grassland/farmland - good food production, but a disincentive for density. Sparse local labor and local opposition to major construction to be expected. Additionally, this choice of site destroys productive land, which may be undesirable to many arcologists.

6. Urban Brownfields - one of the most promising locations, brownfields could be obtained for comparatively cheap prices, are already connected to transportation networks, are within range of potentially large supplies of skilled and volunteer labor, and may be eligible for government funding assistance. No productive land would be destroyed. Urban brownfields may require pollution cleanup, and local governments may attempt to exert excessive control over the project. Furthermore, high urban taxes and crime are significant issues to residents and volunteers. Unions may attempt to gain monopolistic control over the construction process in order to extort excessive wages, bleeding the arcology of cash. Local residents may object to an influx of more affluent people ("gentrification" protests) or demand special services from the arcology builders.

7. Urban downtown - the site of proposed megabuildings, the downtown may have the highest demand for high density constructions and have the highest political support. Additionally, skilled construction labor is plentiful in these areas, if also expensive. High land prices that facilitate building up rather than out can also make attaining a large enough plot to construct an arcology very (perhaps prohibitively) expensive.

8. Suburbia - suburban transit stops have been proposed locations for arcologies; this is a reasonable suggestion for a small arco generally speaking.

9. Underground - any arcology underground would still be in one of the above sites, just underneath rather than on top of it. Underground construction is more expensive, cannot be done by volunteers, and takes longer. Evacuated material must be moved off site. Underground arcos lack the same capacity for solar energy collection or crop production. They expend less energy, however.

10. Underwater - This idea is frankly preposterous.

A word on latitude:

It may be desirable to build an arcology further towards the equater where practical, as equatorial regions get more sunlight, more consistant sunlight, and have (on the whole) more productive soil. Polar arcologies and arcologies are far north as Canada or the arctic circle should be discourages due to the lack of sunlight for solar power (passive and active), solar heating and crop production. Additionally, far north and south areas generally are not heavily populated. Even within the United States, where most arcology thought is currently occuring, this should be a significant factor.

A word on political interferance:

It may be advisable when building in populated areas to seek out moderate political areas. Those that have strong liberal tendancies may make constuction difficult with attention to unions, restrictive building rules, complex and frequently altered zoning codes, political oversight of the construction process, excessive attention to protests or local die-hard opponents, and desires for the arcology to provide various handouts to the locals. Conservative areas may oppose the arcology as a pie-in-the-sky fantasy and not provide many volunteers. Any significant change to the "white picket fence" community could spark political backlash as well. The idea may not gain community acceptance for a good while.

Neither of the political objections is necessarily written in stone; they should be taken into consideration by the builders, however.

Those local governments that attach numberous strings to the constuction project should be avoided where possible.

Transportation needs

Any arcology that is not intended as a monestary styled retreat (and even then it can't hurt) should be connected to the rest of civilization by some form of transportation. For the time being, roads and rail are the options of choice, and arcologies should, when possible, be situated within reasonable distance of good roads or operating rail.

A word on isolation:

Some arcologist have argued that arcologies should be located far from existing civilization. In this way, the arcology would be at least physically removed from the "corosive" influences of popular culture and modern thought.

Others have advocated that arcologies (sometimes not under that name) should be built in the heart of our civilization, as megabuildings in the downtowns of our great metropolises.

Either is acceptable in theory, but in practice it may be more practical to look to areas inbetween in most cases.

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